Endangered: #Snow Leopard
While all endangered animal species are worth fighting for, we decided to focus on those that are critically endangered, i.e. those that are considered to be at high risk of extinction in natural conditions. Most of them have acquired the status of endangered as a result of human activity.
Today we present: Snow leopard
Where do snow leopards live?
The natural habitat of snow leopards is the mountains of Central Asia, from Russia to Nepal. In this huge area, covering the territories of 12 countries, there are only less than 4,000 snow leopards left, and their population is constantly decreasing.
Fewer than 1,000 this animals live in Mongolia.
Observing a leopard in its natural environment is very difficult, which is why it is often called the Spirit of the Mountains by local communities.
The snow leopard usually hunts at dawn and dusk, using its fur as excellent camouflage. It can kill prey up to three times its own weight.
Thanks to its powerful build and wide paws, the snow leopard can easily move even on very steep mountain slopes.
Strong hind legs combined with a flexible spine allow it to jump six times its body length, which is 15 m!
The long and fluffy tail is about half the animal’s total length. Thanks to it, the snow leopard not only keeps its balance, but also protects itself from the cold and wind during rest, wrapping it tightly around itself.
Interestingly, unlike other big cats, the snow leopard cannot roar.
The snow leopard’s thick fur is like human fingerprints, unique to each individual. Unfortunately, beautiful fur is also the greatest curse of the snow leopard, because it is a valuable trophy for poachers. These animals are killed not only because of their beautiful, fluffy fur.
On the black market you can also find claws, bones and meat of panthers, which in traditional Chinese medicine are considered medicines and aphrodisiacs. Leopards also fall prey to snares set for other animals, e.g. marmots.
Snow leopards prey on wild sheep, ibex, as well as smaller mammals and birds.
Their hunting grounds are often rocky, unforested parts of the mountains. These areas are shrinking due to human expansion and the establishment of pastures. This, in turn, leads to a reduction in the natural food of these wild cats.
Hungry panthers are forced to enter human territory and hunt domestic animals.
Shepherds, not knowing other ways to protect their herds from predators, kill snow leopards.
Snow leopard hunting is officially banned.
However, this does not stop poachers from setting traps. Snow leopards are valuable prey for hunters.
The population of snow leopards is also declining due to traps set on other animals, e.g. bobaks.
These traps are the cause of severe mutilation, which prevents snow leopards from hunting freely later, leading the animal to a slow death of hunger.
The greatest threat to these majestic cats is man, although so far no case of a snow leopard attacking a man has been recorded.
Conservation of this species is extremely difficult.
In order to prevent the extinction of snow leopards, emphasis should be placed on the education of shepherds and their families, aimed at reducing the conflict between man and this unique animal. It is also important to remove traps and constantly monitor snow leopards.
The key to success, however, is primarily to increase the awareness of local residents about the life and habits of this animal and to build social commitment to its protection.
Residents of areas adjacent to the habitats of the Mountain Spirits should stop treating their four-legged neighbor as an enemy and see him as a friend and a reason for local pride.
Unfortunately, as a result of climate change, poaching and conflict with man, it may soon turn out that the snow leopard will become a ghost in a completely different sense.
What can we do for snow leopards?
We can symolically adopt a snow leopard.
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